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Huawei P20 Pro review

When it comes to smartphone cameras Huawei’s new flagship the P20 Pro promises some major innovation, it's got three cameras on the back including a 40 megapixel shooter, but do these bring some real advantages or is it just a gimmick? This is my Huawei P20 Pro full review.

Huawei P20 Pro

Huawei has brought an all-new design for this year's P20 pro, unlike last year's all-metal build now we have a build of all glass with a metal frame, this makes for a phone that is pretty eye-catching especially in the Twilight color, it's a gorgeous gradient from purple to green, the corners and edges are rounded and the glass back is curved. It isn't tapered though it feels thick and sturdy.

On the back you can see the P20 pro's unique feature, the like a branded triple camera setup. Huawei is warn-up every smartphone manufacturer around. One side effect of these cameras is a camera bump, so the P20 pro will wobble on a table unlike last year's P10, but an improvement over last year is that instead of just being a splash proof now there is full IP 67 dust and water resistance.

The P20 pro has a stereo speaker setup one speaker is bottom firing and the other doubles as the earpiece, the sound is clear and decently loud. The speaker's can even reproduce Dolby Atmos multi-channel sound, which is great with the right content.

Unfortunately Huawei decided to go without a 3.5 millimeter jack this time around so you'll have to plug in headphones to the USBC port or go wireless.

The Always-on fingerprint reader is front mounted just below the screen, it's really fast and responsive to your touch. If you don't want to use a fingerprint reader there's also a face unlock it's really fast just lift or wake up the phone and it's ready, since it uses the front camera it will bring up the screen to illuminate your face if necessary.

There's plenty of internal storage at 128 gigs, but there's no microSD slot and at the top is an IR blaster which can be used to control supported appliances around the house.

The screen is a 6.1 inch AMOLED with a tall 18 by 9 aspect ratio similar to the Matte 10 pros, the 1080p resolution is lower than the P10 plus is quad HD, but still looks sharp. You may have noticed that there's a screen cut out near the top this notch holds the selfie cam and the loudspeaker the trend started by Apple is making its way everywhere, it's not too intrusive though the screen space next to it is only used to hold notifications and status icons. You can also turn this space black to help hide the notch if it bothers you, regardless content stays underneath and won't be interrupted unlike on the iPhone and with the deep blacks of an AMOLED it all looks nice too.

There's very little color shifting unlike on other AMOLED screens, you won't have problems outdoors either the screen is bright up to 580 nits in auto mode and sunlight legibility is great.

The UI of the P20 pro is Huawei EMUY 8.1 over Android 8.1 Oreo, apps can be stored either on the home screen or in an app drawer and you can also swipe down from the home screen to open an app search bar. There are different options to choose from for navigation instead of having buttons on the screen you can also have an on-screen navigation bar or navigate using the fingerprint reader with swipes just like last year.

There's a theme store with a variety of designs and themes to choose from and Huawei is committed to providing timely Android security updates too.

The P20 Pro runs on a kirin 970 chipset with 6 gigs of RAM this chipset is also inside of the Huawei Matte 10 released last fall so it's not top-of-the-line anymore, though the most recent flagships with the snapdragon 845 perform around 30% better in benchmarks, the P20 pro performs well it's quite powerful and should be able to handle any task you throw at it, though it does start to run hot during more challenging ones.

The P20 pro packs a 4000 milliamp hour battery, battery life is great but shorter than they Matte 10 Pros, it earned an endurance rating of 89 hours in our proprietary tests. Charging is decently fast thanks to Huawei supercharge we got from zero to 46% in half an hour, sadly there is no wireless charging here even though the back is made of glass.

Now let's get to the biggest feature of the P20 pro the only triple camera setup available today, there's a 20 megapixel black-and-white sensor, the 40 megapixel color sensor and at the top an 8 megapixel telephoto lens. The cameras have OIS and used for different autofocus technologies, the P20 pro also uses AI to boost camera performance, the camera can detect various scenes and tune the settings accordingly you can really see the difference in colors though most of the modes are quite exaggerated, so they might not be to everyone's taste.

The default resolution for the color camera and actually all of the cameras is 10 megapixels, photos undergo optimization by combining information from all these two of the cameras at any time, the benefits of reducing the 40 megapixel resolution down to 10 are better sharpness and lower noise.

In good light 10 megapixel shots look great with good detail pleasing colors and plenty of dynamic range, they do seem a bit over sharpened upon close inspection but this could change with future software updates as I did with the Matte 10 pro. You can also opt for large 40 megapixel photos but you don't have the option for any sort of zoom and you don't get much more detail. The telephoto camera allows for 3 times optical zoom and five times hybrid zoom, the three times zoom has almost no loss in quality compared to the main cam, the five times looks good but it's not exactly lossless and some noise is visible but still this level of magnification is impressive, no other phone can provide such quality at a high level of zoom.
The 20 mega pixel monochrome snapper does well in daylight with sharp detail and wide dynamic range, but monochrome mode isn't the highlight feature, this camera is mostly used in conjunction with the other cameras to improve resolution.

In low-light photos produced for the main camera generally look good well exposed though with some visible noise and loss of detail, but if you're trying to make an even nicer picture after dark it's recommended to use the dedicated night mode, this allows for long exposure shots that you can take handheld without a tripod, thanks to advanced AI driven stabilization. The phone is actually making a composite of many photos and it takes a few seconds to process but the results are incredible while some of the shots do still come out blurry the keepers are quite stunning they look almost like they were taken on a cloudy day, showing colors and details that the naked eye can't even see in the dark.

The P20 Pro can also use these cameras to create a blurred background behind the subject in portrait mode, you are able to zoom for this type of shot and you can select various lighting effects like on the iPhone. One downside is that you can't change the level of blur in portrait mode, though strangely you can if you take portraits in aperture mode plus you can change their blur levels after they have been taken.

For selfies the P20 Pro has a 24 megapixel front-facing shooter they look good but focus is fixed so you have to be careful about how far away you hold the camera. You can take portrait selfies too which aren't too bad.

The P20 Pro can shoot super slow-mo video at 960 FPS for the 720p resolution, it's decent but in many ways Huawei version doesn't match up to his competitors by Sony and Samsung. If the captured motion is continuous it works out okay, though processing time after every recording can be annoying, if you're trying to catch a specific moment though it's impossible to control what will be slowed down clips are a short fixed length with a slowdown starting at some point in time after you hit the button.

The P20 Pro takes good videos in 4k though, they're nice and sharp and colors look natural without over processing, you can zoom with the telephoto lens too, unfortunately 4k videos don't have stabilization, but in 1080p stabilization is really good though videos do come out a bit softer and less detail than non stabilized ones.

To wrap things up, the P20 pro is an excellent phone it goes above and beyond last year's P10 borrowing premium features from the Matte series, like a large AMOLED screen, full water resistance and stereo speakers, but photos are where it really shoots, the 40 megapixel label is a bit misleading but at 10 megapixels the P20 pro does well in good light and it's unmatched in zoom and low-light capabilities.

Of course it's not perfect, it's running last year's chipset, the headphone jack is gone and it's a bit pricey too at around 850 Euros, but if you're after a well-balanced flagship phone that can take some awesome photos the P20 pro is worth looking into.


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